Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Wednesday announced that her country and the United States have extended the term of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until 2026.
The extension became effective following the exchange of diplomatic notes between the two sides. US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin reportedly discussed it by phone a week ago, and Mr. Putin signed it into law on Friday.
The Russian parliament had also voted unanimously to extend the treaty.
While announcing the move, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also noted that the move made the world safer. Blinken said the United States had assessed Russia to be in compliance with its New START obligations every year since the treaty entered into force in 2011.
“The United States is committed to effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency, and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races.” the new US top diplomat said
The New START agreement, which was first signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, limits each country to only 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 missiles.
The treaty, which had been set to expire later this week, as the Trump administration had refused to approve the extension, secures limits on both land and submarine-based ballistic missiles as well as heavy bombers.
According to Zakharova, the extension of this bilateral mechanism of control is vital for maintaining strategic stability and international security. Russian foreign ministry statement said the agreement entered into force on Wednesday after diplomatic notes were exchanged with the US Embassy in Moscow.
“Considering the special responsibilities that Russia and the U.S. carry as the world’s largest nuclear nations, the decision taken is important as it guarantees a necessary level of predictability and transparency in this area, while strictly maintaining a balance of interests,” the ministry said.
New Start is the last remaining nuclear arms deal between Russia and the US, and its demise would have ended all limits on deployments of strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems.